Tag - Destination guides

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Happy in Hampi: an insider guide to Goa
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Purple Hearts: Free things to do in New York City
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Purple Hearts Malaga Holidays
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Purple Hearts: Corfu Holidays
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Purple Hearts: Tenerife Spain
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Purple 10: The sexiest bars in the world
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Get Inspired: A Goths Guide to Gothenburg
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Purple Hearts: Benidorm holidays

Happy in Hampi: an insider guide to Goa

Thanks to the lovely writer Rosalie Cruz, who spent the past few months in Goa, experiencing all that life had to offer there. You can find her online on Facebook.

sanapur lakeThe experience of arriving in Hampi in Karnataka State next to Goa, after a ten hour, slightly bumpy bus ride in the dead of night is one that you will likely never forget. I know I won’t. The bus journey itself was unremarkable. The group I was travelling with chose to go by sleeper bus for the convenience since taking a train would mean a costly taxi ride to the bus station and another rickshaw trip from the town of Hospet to Hampi since the latter does not have a train station. The bus would take us straight into Hampi. After ten hours, we had arrived and I was excited to see the Hampi my fellow travellers raved about.

A Firm No

I was the first one of our group to exit the bus. I wish I had been the last. Having that many men shout and pull at you in different directions trying to get you to hop on their rickshaw for a tour of the city or down to the river is an intimidating experience for even hardened travellers. I learnt that day that a firm “no” will go a long way in India. At the time, I was so overwhelmed I nearly missed the stunning scenery around me. Nearly.

Dawn at Hampi

The first thing you see as you step out of the bus and manage to get past the group of drivers is the police station. There’s nothing special about a police station or so you might think, but this one is housed in what appears to be very old ruins of a building that was once part of the city of Vijayanagara. The city was once the capital of an empire with the same name.

Up, close and personal with Hampi

Behind the police station, a range of tall hills constituted solely by massive boulders made a stunning visual. Hampi is nestled between the complex of ruins of what was once one of the greatest cities in the subcontinent (it’s said that in the 1500’s, more than 500 000 people lived there) and the ruin complex is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you’re looking for a landscape photographer’s dream destination, you’ll find it here.
Hampi landscape

After checking in and getting some breakfast (arrival was at about 7am), we rented some mopeds to explore all that there is to see in Hampi Island (also known as “across the river”). It was easy to see that there was no shortage of things to do on this side of the river.We had been told that the best place to stay in Hampi is across the river since there is very little happening in the town at night-time and the tiny boat that ferries people between the riversides stops at 6pm. So we made a booking for a guesthouse on the other side of the river. We made our way down to hop on the ferry only to realise that the distance from the bus stop to the river does not warrant a rickshaw ride at all. Since it was my first time on a rickshaw, I didn’t begrudge the driver the fifty rupees I paid him. On the way there, I caught a glimpse of the imposing Virupaksha Temple, a Hindu temple built in honour of Virupaksha, one of the many forms of Shiva. It became one of the ‘must-sees’ of this trip.

Hanuman Temple

I particularly enjoyed the Anjaneya/Hanuman Temple. Although the 600 step climb up the hill to reach the monkey god’s temple (which I attempted in the blistering Hampi sun) is a somewhat less attractive prospect, the views of the valley as you make your way up will take your mind off the heat. The sunset here is also renowned to be worth the sacrifice. Surrounded by the wondrous beauty of the scenery and the mischief of a bunch of playful monkeys, it’ll be a memory to treasure.

Mopeds_best way around Hampi

Despite all the wonderful things we saw on the island, Hampi town and the ruins of the Vijayanagar city is where the culture and architecture fan in you will truly feel like you’ve arrived. The many ruins of the city are spread across a 25 km radius and are best seen by renting a bike or motorcycle. Walking is also possible but with the hot a dry climate and distances of 5km dividing some of the structures, not to mention the climb required to see some of the buildings, I found the motorbike option to be the best one. A close second favourite is Sanapur Lake, a large body of water surrounded by beautiful rock formations of piled up boulders. At some point, the crowd that is drawn to the area will congregate here for diving off the boulders into the cooling waters of the lake (rumour is that there are crocodiles but I couldn’t see any and they haven’t scared off the tourists) and chill out with other travellers with the same idea. The sunset here is the most magical I have ever seen. On that side of the river, you’ll also find a small waterfall, a handful of temples spread across the countryside and the Pampa Sarovar, a Hindu sacred pond filled with lotus leaves.

Musical Columns

In Hampi town and around the ruins of Vijayanagara, there are quite a few ‘must-stops.’  Hampi bazaar is the heart of the town and is dominated by the Virupaksha Temple (also known as the Pampapathi temple). With its 160-foot (49m) high tower entrance, statues of Shiva and shrines with of the erotica statues, this is place where you could easily spend half a day. The bazaar is a great place to shop for textiles, jewellery and fill up on delicious street food.

Virupaksha Temple

Perhaps one of the most impressive monuments of Hampi, Vithala Temple is bound to remain on its visitor’s minds. It is a thoroughly sculpted building with, ornate pillars and breathtaking carvings. The structure is also renowned for its musical pillars. The group of 56 pillars carved in stone produce an echo of a note when tapped. The back lawn of the temple displays an impressive stone carved chariot with rotating wheels.

Capital of a rich empire

No doubt Hampi is known for its many beautiful temples but it’s impossible to forget that this was once the capital of a rich empire. Kings and Queens lived lavish lifestyles here and as a memento of those times, there are still a handful of buildings that remain, telling stories of greatness. To call out a few: The Elephant stables (a majestic structure with 11 domed chambers for the royal elephants), the Queen’s bath, swimming pool to the royal family (part of the Royal Enclosure, the rectangular building with a  veranda inside wrapped around a square tank 6 feet deep) and the Zenana Enclosure (four buildings – the queen’s palace, two watchtowers through which the ladies of the court kept an eye on the outside world and the Lotus palace, a two storied palace that resembles a lotus flower and served as the meeting place for the royal females).

Hampi sunset over the lake

I left Hampi four days after arriving, feeling that I had not seen or explored half the secrets and treasures of this magical place. The city is beckoning me to return and I think that you Purple Travellers out there should add Hampi to your travel wishlist.

Read more about Rosalie’s Insider Guide to Goa here. All images via @ Rosalie Cruz

Purple Hearts: Free things to do in New York City

There are a million and one things written about New York, but we wanted to focus on the budget side. Although NYC is the home of Carrie Bradshaw and her Manolos, it is possible to get a great city break or summer vacation on the cheap, as long as you’re a bit savvy about it. Read on and get the best in cheap and cheerful, budget and value on New York Holidays.

Times Square

Image via @ hom26

Free Things to do in New York City

Staten Island Ferry: One of the most popular free things in New York City, the ferry is renowned as a top tip. Escape the fare of the Statue of Liberty Ferry but keep the views on the commuter version. Find it at the east end of Battery Park in Lower Manhattan.

Take a walk in Central Park. It’s not just your average patch of grass is it? There are usually free events, statues to visit and sites like Strawberry Fields that are well worth an afternoon’s wandering.

The Trinity Church on Wall Street has regular lunchtime concerts to perk up any afternoon. Usually held on Thursdays around 1pm, it’s worth getting in early for string quartets, sopranos and more.

High line park

Look to the skies: High Line is a gorgeous park built on a former freight rail line. It’s a great place to go and get away from it all for an hour or two. You’ll find opening hours and access information here.

Kayak I love you. There is free kayaking from a couple of different places in Queens such as the Downtown Boathouse. See Manhattan from another angle, down in a kayak!

Sing along at a Broadway Show. Ok, don’t *actually* sing along, your fellow ticket holders might not actually like it, but a night at a show is practically obligatory in the Big Apple. Head for the ticket booth in Times Square for tickets up to 60% off. Cinderella, Matilda, Kinky Boots and Aladdin are just some of the upcoming shows in 2013.

Go to a baseball game. Not strictly free, but if you can wrangle some tickets, a trip to NYC isn’t complete without this all American experience, and where better than watching the New York Mets in Flushing or the Yankees in the Bronx. Just remember not to mix these two up, or feel the wrath of fans! Grab a hot dog, wrap up well and root, root, root for the home team like a true American.

Get in on the act. TV and film play a big part in the cultural identity of New York, so why not be a part of it at a studio taping. Shows like the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, the Late Show with David Letterman and Saturday Night Live always have a studio to fill up, but these will definitely need to be booked in advance.

Free tour in a brewery Do we need to say more than that? The Brooklyn Brewery offers free tours at weekends between 1 and 4pm.

Walking is free! Big Apple Greeters are locals who offer free tours of their neighbourhoods, these friendly folks will show you the ins and outs of the city, in a way you might never discover otherwise. Other free tours include a 90 minute runaround of the Grand Central Terminal led by an architectural historian, someone who certainly knows their stuff! At Times Square, there’s an Expose Free Walking Tour every Friday from 12.

What to see for free (or cheap) in New York City

Check out Chelsea The galleries of Chelsea are famous (infamous?) and are mostly free. If you time you’re visit right you might even make it for the cheese and wine openings each Thursday. It’s where the beautiful people hang out, so you’ll fit right in.

Museums to savour There are so many museums with free entry in the city, we can’t name them all, but these are some favourites: (you can find more on free and sometimes free museums in NYC hereThe Museum of Fashion Institute of Technology, Socrates Sculpture Park, Tuesday only: Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Fridays between 4 and 8pm Moma, the Museum of Modern Art and for kids after 3pm, pay what you will at New York Aquarium or free Fridays between 2 and 5pm at the New York Hall of Science.

BUrgerImage via @ hom26

Eat… a lot for free (or cheap) in New York City

New York is hardly short of places to eat, but it’s the cheap street food and burger joints that really impress us. New York Street Food will help you find the best in food trucks from hot dogs to ramen to cupcakes and ice cream on the go.

For the best in burgers, well it’s hard to decide but mini burgers at Pop Burger, 58-60 9th Avenue or pop to an outdoor seat at Shake Shack on the corner of Madison Square Park, near Madison Avenue and East 23rd Street, for a tasty treat. The Burger Joint in the fancy Meridien Hotel is a bit pricier, but the queues around the corner really say it all.

For totally free deliciousness, head for Brooklyn where some smart marketing folks came up with free food for every beer purchased. The farmers markets that dot the city are a good choice too for healthy and tasty snacks and decent prices. You can find out where to catch one here.

Where to stay for free (or cheap) in New York City

Stay on budget, stay for cheap Although there are plenty of options for cheap hotels and hostels in the city, you do have to be careful that it’s not some dodgy place that’ll have you awake all night worrying.

A couple of good options include the Harlem Flophouse, an atmospheric choice, with shared bathrooms and themed rooms at 242 West 123rd Street, the 3* Milford NYC in Times Square. It’s in a great location close to everything and with nice touches like iPod docking in each room. Trendy and central, the 3*Yotel, also in Times Square is modern and funky, with flat screen TVs in every room and a moving bed. The 2* Gershwin Hotel is cheap and cheerful in midtown, in the Flatiron district and within 10 minutes walk of the Empire State. Simple rooms make it a good value choice. On the other end of the scale, you’ll get extreme luxury at the historic Waldorf Astoria, but it’ll cost you!

If we missed any top tips on cheap or free things to do in New York City, let us know in the comments below!

Purple Hearts Malaga Holidays

Malaga in sunshine from PurpleTravel_2Malaga in sunshine via @ gotardo 

Drenched in sunshine, there’s a reason it’s called the Costa del Sol. Did you know there are at least 300 days of sunshine every year on the Costa and it gets up to a balmy 27 degrees in the summertime. Its regional capital Malaga is no different and is the right mix of nightlife, beaches, shopping and total relaxation.

If the weather isn’t enough to convince you how about the price? It’s cheap as chips on Malaga holidays 2014, especially if you know the right places to go. And that’s before we start on the native Malaguenos. The friendliest people on earth? Only one way of finding out.

Beaches in Malaga

Malagueta_from_PurpleTravel

Malagueta via @ Ari Helminen

The obvious first choice is Playa de la Malagueta, the blue flag town beach. A busy beach, with good facilities and easy to get to. Get to the Playa Las Acacias early as it’s a popular choice. Great for kids with its sheltered sandy coves and it’s huge so there’s plenty of room for everyone. Beside the El Candad marina you’ll find the Playa Palo with a good atmosphere and lots of facilities and bars. Further on from the city there are great beaches to discover like the Santa Amalia in Fuengirola, El Padron in Estepona and Casablanca in Marbella. So really it’s up to you!

What to do in Malaga

Malaga Bullring from PurpleTravel

Along with Seville and Madrid, Malaga is at the heart of bullfighting in Spain. Although clearly the sport is not for everyone, the bullring at Plaza La Malagueta draws throngs throughout the throngs of locals during the season (April to September.) Malaga Bullring via @ mer de glace 

Malaga is the birthplace of the legendary painter Pablo Picasso and the Picasso Museum houses a selection of his works, with a detailed audio tour added to it. The café and shop are worth browsing in too. There’s also a Museum of Dollhouses in Malaga, a cute collection that’ll impress any little princess. Learn all about the history of the area at the Museo de Artest Populaires or treat yourself at (our personal favourite) the Wine Museum of Malaga. Retreat from the hectic streets by visiting the Renaissance city Cathedral or take a walk in La Concepcion –  Jardin Botanico (the Botanic Gardens.)

Day trips from Malaga

Night view of the Alhambra

The imposing Alhambra Palace in nearby Granada is one of Spain’s most important attractions. It’s part cathedral, part castle and part palace and has inspired poetry, music and even mathematics. You’ll definitely need to get tickets in advance to make sure you get in. Night view of the Alhambra via @ Teosaurio

Mijas and Nerja are two delightful little villages very close to the city. They have small lookout points, offering beautiful views of the Costa. Furthermore there are plenty of smaller resorts to discover nearby. Travelling west from Malaga City, you’ll find Torremolinos, Fuengirola and Marbella. Going East you’ll get to Rincon de la Victora or Torre del Mar. Most of these are just a few minutes on easy connections by train and are well worth going to for an evening out eating or exploring.

Family fun on Malaga Holidays 2014

Juzcar

Visit the town of Juzcar. In 2011 all the residents got together and painted every building a lovely sky blue, in honour of the Smurfs movie. Juzcar image via @ manuelfloresv

Worth a look if you’ve got the time. The Aventura Amazonia in Marbella is an action packed activity park with 83 challenges and 20 zip lines. Enough to keep little ones busy for hours. Selwo Adeventure in Estepona has over 2,000 animals from across the world and also offers some activities, like zip wires. Aqualand in Torremolinos is the biggest waterpark on the Costa, big enough to spend the whole day and just minutes from downtown, it’s a top choice.

Shopping in Malaga

Sales in Malaga run on and on and on, even in the classiest shops in the centre of town. Start with the fancy designer shops around Calle Marques de Larios. The marble boulevard just screams big bucks. Well worth an afternoon out is the Mercado Central de Atarazanas for a riot of colour, the freshest in fruit and vegetables and yummy cheese (and a great tapas bar in the corner.) It’s ideal for stocking up if you’re self catering.

In the heart of the city you’ll find the Smile Bank, a cute shop selling all sorts of funny souvenirs, cute t-shirts and personalised gifts. If you need a hat, fedora, sombrero or panama (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?) Go to Ricardo del Cid Fernandes on Calle Caldereria, an old school favourite.

Green fees in and around Malaga

Golf courses abound in Malaga from approximately €17 at the Casares Costa Golf designed by Juan Carlos Martinez to €65 at the La Cala Resort and plenty in between.

Nightlife in Malaga

There are some great bars, music venues and of course, clubs in Malaga and the surrounding areas offering everything from a quiet drink in a cosy snug to dancing on the table all night long. The ZZ Pub is a favourite with locals and has lots of live bands. Mane in nearby Benalmadena is open late, has free entrance at the weekend and you can expect pumping dance music all night. The Velvet Club on Calle Juan de Padilla 22 has great music and prides itself on its midweek parties, but note they close at 3am. If karaoke is more your thing, head for Dixie’s on Salvador Allende 9. A small, friendly establishment, run by locals, it is a great place to get your night started.

Hen and Stags in Malaga

Lads enjoying a stag party
Malaga’s also an up and coming hen and stag party destination. With a tonne of clubs, cheap bars and booze and loads of activities like, a fiesta meal (with stripper) for the ladies or very special nights out for the lads, with added dancing for the groom to be, you and your gang can have as much fun as you want.

You Should Read… The Perfect Stag and Hen Parties

Cheap eating in Malaga

Fancy Octopus lunch in Malaga SpainMalaga is a delicious taste of Spain and one of the most surprising things? The prices. One visitor who has just returned from a short trip to the city was delighted to find: “abundant coffee and wine at €1.50 so you can savour a stop frequently.”

Malaga has delicious Spanish cuisine and great international choices too.  Start with a trip to Tapeo de Cervantes, C/Carcer 8, for reasonably priced, excellent quality food. Arguably the best bargain tapas place on the Costa del Sol! For something special, the Restaurante Amador at Calle Bandaneira 6 is a quality establishment offering beautiful, fresh Spanish food along with delightful views. For seafood Marisqueria el Kaoba is a mid priced must. Finish your evening with a stop at Malaga’s top sweet shop, Cafe Lepanto at Calle Marques de Larios 7.

Octopus Lunch in Malaga via @ Ewan-M

Where to stay in Malaga

The Barcelo Malaga is just a few minutes from the city centre and right on the handy AVE high speed rail line, so it’s a great choice for couples who want to soak up the sunshine and relax. The Hotel Las Vegas is right on the waterfront at La Malagueta beach and all rooms have a full or partial sea view. The Malaga Centro is in a great location as its name suggests and just a couple of minutes to the beach. Hotel Domus, just five minutes from Pedregalejo Beach and with simple rooms, this is good value choice, but is a little further from the city centre (4km.)

For more cheap Malaga holidays give Purple Travel a call on 0207 993 9228.

Purple Hearts: Corfu Holidays

The queen of the Ionian Sea, Corfu is one of the greenest of the Greek islands, thanks to intermittent rains from September through May. Its landscape is comprised of thousands of olive trees making for a much more rural appearance that many other touristic spots in the country. Its combination of beautiful beaches and warm waters, with a fascinating history (not to mention great food), make it one of our top selling destinations.

Corfu

Corfu is best visited from Easter until October, though many resort hotels only work from May to September. We recommend mid-May to June, when discounted room rates, better taverna service and moderate weather make for an all-round superior trip. July and August are warmer, but also more crowded and expensive.

To get the most out of Corfu holidays, read on for our travel guide, including recommendations from the experts at Nelios.com (Greece’s leading e-tourism agency) and from our own Sales Team who specialise in holidays to Greece and its islands.

Beaches in Corfu

Kerasia – the quiet one

Kerasia Beach is a calm cove, with a long, sweeping beach, which lies between Kouloura and Agios Stephanos. The beach may not have many amenities, with just one tavern amongst a handful of villas, but its peacefulness and relaxed atmosphere are beyond compare. Its privacy also makes it a celebrity favourite; the Rothchild’s have a house there and Prince Charles and Lord Sainsbury are regulars.

Sidari – the traditional one

Sidari, two little villages connected by a beautiful stretch of sand, is an excellent choice for those who enjoy swimming and a piece of traditional life on the island. And if you’re travelling as a couple, one of Sidari’s most famous landmarks are the unique cliff formations known as canal d’ amour (French for the channel of love). Legend has it that if a couple swim together in its water, they will be forever in love.

I recommend Sidari for swimming or diving (it’s an amazing place!) and Corfu Town for a night stroll… Paxi island is also great for a day cruise.

Maria Tsekoura, Content Writer at Nelios.com

Glyfada – the pretty one

Glyfada Beach is by far the most beautiful on Corfu. Surrounded by a fine selection of tavernas and bars, you can easily spend all day here. The beach is made up on soft sands, making it a great choice for those with young children too.

Things to Do in Corfu

YouTube Preview Image

Rent a Car

As much of the tourist development on Corfu holidays is isolated to the coastal patches, travelling inland is much like travelling to a completely different island, or perhaps even in a different era altogether. Secondary roads in Corfu appear not to have changed at all since British times. Renting a car is a must if you wish to see more of the rural landscapes and perhaps even take a picnic with you to make a day of it.

I recommend renting a car, pick a nice sunny day and your other half and go to one of the tallest mountains in Corfu and enjoy the breathtaking view. I know I did.

Georgios H. Kafataridis, Support Department at Nelios.com

Take a Walking Tour of Corfu Town

Corfu was the island that offered shelter to Homer’s Odysseus and allowed Poseidon to indulge his love for Amphitrite in Greek mythology. Today the island inspires the same creativity and love, with its cultural diversity and stunning scenery.  The best way to see the most interesting parts of Corfu Town is to take a walking tour.

Corfu town is a welcome mix of old and new, having been owned in the past by both France and Britain, there are distinct influences of its historic past in the architecture, atmosphere and local produce. It feels more like a French or Italian town rather than a Greek one, particularly in the square of the Esplanade, known as the Spianada. This square was first planned by the French, but is also encircled with beautiful Italian style buildings and even an old Venetian fortress known as the Old Fort, which features a small museum of Corfu’s history and an art gallery of traditional paintings. On a walking tour, you’ll pass a 19th century park and esplanade that is one of the largest plazas in all of Europe, Liston Street, the home of all that famed Venetian Architecture and the spectacular neoclassical Palace of St George and St Michael.

Visit Pelekas

Pelekas is a lovely village that with a great deal to offer tourists. Sandy beaches, tavernas, olive groves, nightlife and more make it well-worth a visit, whether you wish to stay in the resort or spend a day here. You’ll find some of the island’s finest traditional food and drink, enjoyed aside wonderful views from its hilltop location.

The scenic and infamous village of Pelekas, in southwestern Corfu is situated on top of a hill offering panoramic views all over the island. The village is nestled amidst lush greenery and here you can totally relax admiring the sun setting over the deep blue waters of the Ionian Sea. For exceptional views and unique pictures visit the Kaiser’s Observatory to experience the ultimate sunset, as the German Emperor William II used to do, or Hotel Levant’s café for a refreshing drink as well.

Eleni Dimou, Content Writer at Purple Travel

Food and Drink in Corfu

At Purple Travel, we think Corfu holidays are all about the food and drink, and we’re certain you’ll feel the same after a trip there. Long gone are the soggy chips and cold moussakas of the old days, modern Corfiot food is fresh and exciting and produced mainly using locally-grown ingredients. From traditional tavernas to fine dining seafront restaurants, you’re certain to find ample choices of eateries on the island.

I recommend you to go on Fridays evenings at Lemon Garden Restaurant in Acharavi for the “Greek Night” with live music and dancers and drink minimum a “Lemon Pie” cocktail.

Luca Mitrea, Sales Advisor at Purple Travel

A drink in the famous Cavalieri Hotel is a must-do. This stunning 17th century hotel has long been a meeting point for writers, actors and poets, statesmen, businessmen and leisure travellers  Having once belonged to the family of Count Flamburiari, it reopened as a hotel in the mid ‘60s, becoming one of the first luxury hotels in Corfu.

If you go to Corfu, you must try pastitsada and sofrito at Bellissimo Restaurant. If you don’t you can’t say you’ve been there!

John Ropas, Senior Developer at Nelios.com

Book your cheap holiday to Corfu today by calling Purple Travel on 0207 993 9228.

Purple Hearts: Tenerife Spain

Sun soaked, dazzling seas, year round warmth, lively clubs or relaxed lounging, it’s no wonder Tenerife Spain is a perennial favourite for tourists from all the UK. Straight out of Doctor Who, the lunar landscape is inspiring; it has its own volcano, year round good weather, the black beaches are something to marvel at and it would be tricky to find a livelier year round holiday hot spot.

Image under Creative Commons via @ Pasotraspaso 

Where to stay

Ideal for groups Playa de las Americas the busiest and one of the biggest resorts in Tenerife, Playa de las Americas isn’t just for groups, but for anyone looking for fun in the sun. There are endless sandy beaches, water sports by the bucket load and all night long clubbing.

Great for families Los Cristianos On the southern coast of Tenerife you’ll find great deals and lots of fun for youngsters. The soft, sandy beaches and shallow waters make it a great place to break out the bucket and spade while family friendly days out, fishing or sightseeing make it an excellent all round choice.

Perfect for couples Play Paraiso is exactly as its name suggest – paradise like. It’s a relaxed and peaceful resort that’s perfect for spending long, lazy days soaking up the sunshine on the beach. If it’s something livelier you’re after than the nearby Costa Adeje or Playa de las Americas offers unbeatable nights out.

Things to do

Image used under Creative Commons via @ Caza_no_7

Hit the beach OBVIOUSLY! There’s a big variety of beaches on the island. Some are made of dramatic, black volcanic sand, some are sandy, other’s shingle and others rocky. Most have beach bars, with excellent facilities and if you’re looking to strip off you’ll find naturist beaches on Playa de la Tejita in El Medano, or Playa de las Gaviotas in Santa Cruz.

Splash out at a water park Two major water slide parks are available in Costa Adeje the Thai themed Siam Park filled with slides and fun for all the family and Aqualand which has its own dolphin show, sure to impress kids of all ages.

Feast! Tenerife Spain has some delicious gastronomic treats on offer. The fact that it’s an island means it offers some delicious fresh fish simply boiled or baked in salt. Rabbit is a popular choice, while goat and beef are also good for the carnivores amongst you. You can’t leave Tenerife without sampling some of the wrinkly potatoes, papas arrugadas, or some of the fresh locally produced cheese.

Carnival Every February, Tenerife’s capital Santa Cruz de Tenerife holds the second biggest carnival in the world, just after Brazil’s famous Rio street party. A riot of colour, there is music, singing, dancing, parades, fancy dress and the party goes on for days.

Visit the House of Honey Learn how honey is collected at the Casa de la Miel, built to support Tenerife’s bee keeping sector. Find out how apiculture works and get to taste some of the local favourites.

Let your hair down Head for the banging resort of Playa de las Americas, the home of nightlife on the island. The whole place is just building up every day to happy hour and there you’ll find the best clubs and bars filled with pumping music, great deals on drinks and dancing on tables. Just remember, what happens in Tenerife, stays in Tenerife.

Shop ‘til you drop Take advantage of the lower taxes in Tenerife Spain and head for the capital Santa Cruz. Bargains are everywhere with plenty of department stores to splash your cash, or small boutiques filled with bargains. Take home some local turron (a type of nougat) ceramics, leather goods or a pair of espadrilles.

Try to catch the green flash At sunset and sunrise an optical illusion sometimes occurs, where a green spot is visible on the horizon, usually for only a second or two.  It’s been known to happen in Tenerife and with great views out to the ocean, if you’re lucky you might just catch it.

Things to see

Image under Creative Commons via @ Edans

Auditorio de Tenerife The imposing structure of the Auditorio de Tenerife is found in the island’s capital. Designed by Santiago Calatrava the dramatic building hosts musical performances, operas and conferences, but the building itself is a sight to see too.

Teide Volcano If you’re planning on hiking, or want to cheat your way by cable car, a trip up the spectacular Teide, the highest point in Spain is a must, just be sure to apply for a permit to the get to the top. The views are well worth it and you’ll thank us when you get home!

TEA Tenerife This arts space in Santa Cruz is the Tenerife equivalent of the Tate Modern. Culture vultures can lap up contemporary and surrealist art in its permanent and temporary exhibitions.

Go rural Check out a cave house built into the mountains, go whale watching, or hiking or tickle your taste buds with some delicious local products. Teno Rural is a fun day out for all the family to discover the nature and history of the island.

Top hotels in Tenerife

Costa Adeje Gran Hotel A fantastic all inclusive option, the 5* Costa Adeje Gran Hotel is in a great location close to the shops to pick up a couple of bargains, the transfer times from the airport are about 50 minutes and the nearby beach and water park are perfect family fun.

Adonis Isla Bonita Hotel Just minutes from the beach, this 4* offers a warm and friendly holiday experience. The spacious, brightly coloured rooms are ideal for relaxing after busy days on Playa Fanabe Beach or the nearby Siam Water Park.

Columbus Aparthotel This 3* in the busy and vibrant Playa de las Americas resort is great for young people who want to be close to the bustling nightlife, water sports facilities and great beaches.

Sandos San Blas with a focus on environmental well being and sustainable tourism, the Sandos San Blas Nature Resort and Golf is a little slice of paradise. Play 18 holes, or head for the loungers to soak up the sunshine.

Laguna Park The infamous Laguna Park I and II accommodations are in a great party of Tenerife, just off the Las Americas Beach. Close to the bustling centre, with great facilities, it’s an excellent all round option for couples, families or groups.

Purple 10: The sexiest bars in the world

  1. Moon at the PalmsLas Vegas There is colour changing glass tiles, a retractable roof, and you’re in VEGAS, baby!!
  2. 360 Bar, Jumeirah Resort, Dubai Nothing cheesy here, Jumeirah’s 360 club is all about the music, playing cutting edge tunes, with international DJs and themed nights.
  3. Rooftop Tapas BarSan Miguel, Mexico Al fresco dining is the idea here, with the dramatic city views and magnificent sunsets the perfect accompaniment.
  4. Top Mountain Star, Austrian Alps Finish off a day’s skiing with this James Bond-esque bar, right on top of a snowy mountain.
  5. 360 Istanbul, Turkey the hippest bar in Istanbul, the 360 prides itself on its amazing cocktail menu, not to mention the panoramic views.
  6. Woolloomooloo, Central Hong Kong half steakhouse, half bar, all view. This is an unmissable spot if you’re passing through Hong Kong.
  7. The Nest, Nairobi Delicious martinis or scented shishas are the side dishes to the perfect views.
  8. Franco’s Bar, Santorini, Greece Santorini is the home of the ultimate sunset, so what better place to enjoy it than the white terraced rooftop of Francos?
  9. Gravity Bar, Dublin, Ireland This is the most stylish bar in Dublin where you can knock back a pint of the black stuff while enjoying full 360 degree views of the Irish capital.
  10. The Top Bar, Adriana Hotel, Hvar, Croatia Featuring wrap around views of the ancient city, the harbour and the islands, this is one for the sophisticated amongst us

Are we missing something from our list of sexiest bars in the world? Is there a new one that we’ve forgotten this year? Let us know your choice in the comments below.

Get Inspired: A Goths Guide to Gothenburg

Gothenburg, as its name may suggest, is vastly infested with activities for the darkly inclined. While as a goth, you may prefer to explore at night, there are plenty of places where you can seek refuge from direct sunlight in Sweden’s second city.

Gothenburg in winter

Begin your gothic getaway in the defunct, graffitied power station situated beside the giant Älvsborgsbron. Now known as Röda Sten, this is one of Sweden’s coolest art centres. Here you’ll find many of your own kind amongst it four gritty floors, along with a number of modern art exhibitions. Wear head-to-toe black and stand ominously in a corner, shocking unbeknown tourists who will only assume you’re part of some morbid, avant-garde installation.

The building also houses an indie-style cafe with summertime riverside seating (avoid), weekly live music (enjoy) and offbeat one-offs like punk bike races, boxing matches and stand-up comedy (definitely avoid – cracking a smile is not good for your image).

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was based in Sweden

Hungry after a day’s hard gothing about, why not head over to the Salrosen restaurant. Unfortunately, they do not serve fresh blood or bat’s heads, but they do serve up some mean vegetarian cuisine, which is pretty much second best. A 1970s survivor, this laid-back student haunt is a Haga institution (note the photos of passed-on regulars above the counter). Or if that’s not your bag, head along the leafy Vasagatan Boulevard, to Java Kaffebar, a café thick with dreadlocks, dyed hair and nipple rings.

Gothin’ about

Where else would you find a goth than in… a cemetery, of course. The Eastern cemetery in Gothenburg was designed by architect J. H. Strömberg and is one of the most beautiful cemeteries in Scandinavia (n.b. we mean this in the way a dead bird is beautiful, not a glorious sunrise – that’s just sick). The huge hill on its west side hosts some magnificent mausoleums, perfect for doing some après-dinner Ouija boards.

Next hot foot it to Barbarella, which opened in 1991 as a store for fetish clothes and shoes. After frequent requests from customers and some appearances on MTV, Barbarella decided to stop selling clothes and became a full-time piercing studio. The studio is now located at Lilla Drottningatan in the city center of Gothenburg, offering our customers the largest and widest collection of piercing jewellery in the whole of Scandinavia. Get yourself sufficiently perforated with as much metal as you can fit in your face, then take your transformed image on a Gothed-up night out.

Home to Swedish death metal bands such as Nihilist and Carnage, Gothenburg offers an excellent after-dark scene for the goth crowd. The street Andra Långgatan has become a hub for the alternative and creative occupation of Gothenburg, with new bars, cafes and unusual shops popping-up all the time. Truckstop Alaska is an underground rock bar in the heart of the former industrial districts of Hisingen. Although you have to be a member to get in, the hassle of joining will only add to the feeling that you’ve stepped into some dark enclave of the occult, where all kinds of sordid affairs take place…

Enjoyed our goths guide to Gothenburg? Check out a posh girls guide to Paris.

Purple Hearts: Benidorm holidays

Benidorm holidays are a firm favourite with British holiday makers and have been for years. It’s easy to see why, with fantastic beaches, plenty of nightlife and activities for anyone from two to 92, it’s one of our absolute favourites.

Benidorm holidays from purple travel

Smack, bang, right on the Med, holidays in Benidorm holidays have grown a lot since humble beginnings in the 60s. Its miles of coastline are packed full of beaches, cafes, a promenade and restaurants and it’s one of the top tourist destinations on the whole of the Costa Blanca. Although it’s developed a bit of a reputation, in the last few years the focus has shifted to a more family friendly approach. There are still plenty of clubs and bars, but you’ll also find lots of cultural walks, theme parks, water sports and great food and nightlife. Whether it’s a day at theme parks like Terra Miticia, a night on the tiles or long, lazy days of relaxing on the beach, Benidorm holidays have it all.

Originally built between two beaches, Benidorm was once a little fishing village, standing in the shade of a church called San Jaime. Now everything you’ll find is geared towards giving you a great holiday. Its growing skyline means it’s often referred to as the “Manhattan of Spain”, or, our personal favourite “Beniyork.” (The Gran Hotel Bali found downtown, stands at a whopping 186 metres high and is the tallest hotel in Europe.) It’s made up of tree lined avenues and is one of the best served cities from the UK, with over 30 low cost and scheduled airlines flying there direct every day. Because there are so many seats, there are plenty of competitive prices to suit every budget.

Places to go: Benidorm’s beaches are one of the top draws, with long, fine soft sandy stretches and crystal clear waters. Of course, it is home to outstanding weather year round. A perfect urban beach to kick off your holiday is Levante Beach. It is right in the town, so it’s packed full of facilities and is so handy if you fancy going straight out in the evening. In the south Poniente beach is another great choice, while the relaxing Mal Pas cove is a quieter option.

Benidorm's skyline represents the paradigm of ...

Benidorm’s skyline represents the paradigm of mass seasonal tourism in Spain. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Take the boat trip to the Island of Benidorm, where you’ll find spectacular diving opportunities. The seabed is packed full of colourful fish. The island is also home to the Benidorm Wildlife Sanctuary. After a dip, you can take the time to hear about the legend of the island’s origins. It’s told that the brave warrior Roland cut off a piece of the nearby Puig Campana Rock with his sword, during a raid by Charlemagne and from there the island grew.

There are plenty of natural attractions to see on the mainland too, like cliffs, mountains and paths towards the sea. The nature reserve of Serra Gelada is picture perfect and ideal for hiking. The small town of Calpe up the road is lovely for a day’s stroll and maybe a lunch out, for a change from the beach. While the beautiful old town of Altea with its historic domed churches is just a few miles away by bus.

Things to do: As holidays in Benidorm are fully geared up for escape there are tonnes of activities for all ages. For the kids, the 4kwatro, Aqualandia and Terra Mitica will keep them busy for hours on end, with rollercoasters, water slides, picnic areas, playgrounds and live shows. There are regular buses from the town and it makes a nice change from the beach too.

For a proper holiday bit of fun, the Benidorm Palace is a 2,000 seater theatre, with live shows everyday which range from movie glamour to disco glam to flamenco fusion. It’s the best place to go for a laugh, before moving on for an evening out. Its latest addition is the Benidorm circus, with clowns and acrobats that will impress all the family.

English: Benidorm by night from Gran Hotel Bal...

English: Benidorm by night from Gran Hotel Bali (floor 33) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Of course, in Benidorm, it’s hard not to get caught up in the party spirit. With a heap of bars and clubs, you could almost go to a different spot every night of your holiday. Club Manssion opens its doors to 5000 clubbers from all over Europe every Saturday night. It hosts the best in Hardcore if that’s what you’re into. If you’re looking to party, you could always start there! KU Benidorm is a little more laidback, but you’ll have an equally awesome night out there. The whole city centre comes alive at night and the cabaret acts start around 9. You can almost guarantee a night out in Benidorm won’t end until the early hours.

There are plenty of alternatives to nightclubbing too. Try the Benidorm International Song Fest every summer which draws plenty of celebrities like Julio Iglesias (Enrique’s dad!) There’s also the Benidorm Low Cost Festival, which makes our pockets very happy. 2012’s line up includes Kasabian, Suede and Placebo.

Español: Tapas en un establecimiento de Barcel...

Español: Tapas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Food: You won’t go hungry in Benidorm, there are over 1,000 places to eat! Our top choices are always delicious Spanish cuisine and tapas dishes are a top tip. Tapas are little dishes of finger food that can be almost anything. You’ll usually see olives, little meatballs, omelettes or patatas bravas, potatoes with spicy tomato sauce.

Of course, being a holidaymakers hot spot, Benidorm is home to restaurants from every corner of the world, from French and Dutch to Chinese and of course if you’re missing a fry or a cuppa, there are plenty of English breakfasts to be had throughout the resort.

Drink: Happy hour doesn’t get any better than in Benidorm. With tonnes of bars, we counted around 800, you’ll surely find some tip top tipples. There are themed bars, late bars, clubs, and promotions like two for one, cocktails and other deals to get you in the door. Because of the competition, there tends to be plenty of good offers to find and take advantage of. Choose from small, local Spanish bars that sell bottles at €1 each, or head for the reliable British pubs. There are also Dutch and Irish bars and most show football on large screens. Plenty offer karaoke and nightly entertainment too.

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